Look Out, Turkey
In Jerry Kramer’s Farewell to Football, the author describes a gridiron invention claimed by his fellow guard Fuzzy Thurston. The Green Bay Packers were thrashed by the Detroit Lions in a contest on Thanksgiving Day, 1962. One reason for the beating was a lack of effective pass blocking, especially by guards Kramer and Thurston.
The Lions sacked quarterback Bart Starr 11 times, a league record. After the debacle, Thurston joked that he and Kramer had invented the “lookout” block. He said throughout the game the guards would make unsuccessful attempts to block charging opponents, and then yell, “Look out, Bart.”
Well, maybe Thurston and Kramer launched the first lookout blocks in the National Football League, but they certainly were not the first players to use the term. A pair of high school gridders practiced a version of the “lookout” 10 years earlier.
In 1952, I played right guard and my pal Gordy Newborg was the right tackle for the Tomahawk Hatchets, a Wisconsin high school team somewhat less renowned than the Packers, and not nearly as fearsome as its name implies. Newborg intensely disliked one of our halfbacks. I wasn’t too fond of the guy, either. During most practice scrimmages, the back usually managed to infuriate Newborg and antagonize me in one way or another.
When that happened, Newborg nudged me as we broke the huddle after the halfback’s number was called. He whispered, “Let “em in.” We would fake blocks, turn, and yell, “Lookout.” The “play” usually resulted in two hefty defensemen bashing our mouthy halfback before he could get under way.
Hair-splitters may claim that the ineffective Klade-Newborg blocks were intentional, and therefore not the same as the Kramer-Thurston “lookouts.” That’s true. If the Packers had known of the Tomahawk play, perhaps they would have yelled, “Sorry, Bart; Lookout,” to better define their modification of our invention.
One thing’s for sure, they didn’t yell, “Happy Thanksgiving,” but that’s my shout to you today.